The jobs available to most workers today are certainly different from those available to workers in past generations. The shift in today’s workforce is toward white-collar jobs and service employment. Unskilled labor is declining, and machines that have need of nothing but a little maintenance from time to time do many of the most tiresome jobs (Atchison, Belcher, & Thomsen, 2014).
Network in Action
The ability for workers to network gives organizations advantages that other organizations do not have. For instance, networked workers can leverage a great deal of information to help an organization (Alstyne, 1997). Networked workers are flexible workers (Madden & Jones, 2008). Cell Phones, laptops, desktops and an array of Internet tools allow the networked worker to work from home, the office, on vacation, in the air and everywhere else these devices can go. Technology has advanced in such a fashion that companies can be set up in one country, and be operated from the offices of another company anywhere in the world. Finally, the tools that networked workers use are cost effective. Internet connections are standard for every major company in the world. With this connectivity, workers have access to email, Internet tools, and a host of reference materials that can be accessed 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Among employed workers, 96% are making use of new communications technology in one way or the other (Madden & Jones, 2008). The benefits of networked workers are not exhausted by the three points made here, but they certainly provide ample proof of how networked workers benefit organizations globally.
As sure as there are many benefits to an Internet savvy workforce, there are some negative connotations of the technology. These negativities can be looked at from two different points of view.
The Wired and Ready Worker
From the standpoint of the employee, new Information and communications technology (ICT) increases hours spent at work, inflames stress, and makes it harder to disconnect from work (Atchison, Belcher, & Thomsen, 2014). Value in the workplace comes from the creative source of the connected individual (Jarche, 2013). That simply means that when people interact together creativity is enhanced exponentially, allowing a company to advance. With pressure put on the collective body to create and get things done, time, energy and availability are taxed to a maximum. This causes workers to burn out quickly and feel as if they have no down time.
The Socially Conscious Organization
For the organization, networking brings new problems that must be addressed. By design, many organizations make social outlets, like email, cell phones, and laptops available to employees to encourage creativity and improve ideation; however, these outlets can be abused. Employees not only use these outlets for the good of the organization, but to send personal messages to family and friends. Some of these messages can be counterproductive to the organization and its mission. Too, there are times when Internet activity can cost money, and in this instance it is important the organizations know what is being charged for business activities, and what is being used in relationship to personal gain.
Challenges Give Way to Opportunities
Having looked at both positive and negative aspects of networking in today’s modern world of business, it is important to note that even the negative associations of networking are far less offensive as the alternative of not being networked. For the employee, the network still provides means for greater productivity with the ease of connectivity. When the employee is off, phones can be switched off, computers turned off, and email followed up on during the next business day. For the employer, the advancement of technology and networking means business at a faster pace than ever before. More work is being done in shorter amounts of time, allowing for cost effective products and more profits. Truly, a networked organization is an advantaged organization.
Alstyne, M. V. (1997). The state of network organization. Retrieved from MIT.edu: http://ccs.mit.edu/papers/CCSWP192/ccswp192.html#2
Atchison, T. J., Belcher, D. W., & Thomsen, D. J. (2014). Work, workers, and organizations. Retrieved from Distance learning Center: http://dlc.erieri.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=textbook.chpt04
Jarche, H. (2013, November 5). Networks are the new companies. Retrieved from Life in perpetual beta: http://www.jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies/
Madden, M., & Jones, S. (2008, September 24). Networked Workers. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewinternet.org/2008/09/24/networked-workers/